Effectiveness of EMDR therapy as an adjunct to treatment as usual (TAU) in adults with autism and a history of adverse events
Background. Evidence suggests that clinicians tend to overlook symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Until now, the effects of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in adults with ASD suffering from trauma-related symptoms are not studied. Objectives. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a maximum of 8 sessions EMDR therapy in addition to treatment as usual (TAU) in reducing trauma related symptoms and general psychopathological symptoms. Our hypothesis was that these symptoms would decrease significantly following treatment with EMDR in comparison with TAU only, and that the results would be maintained at 6 up to 8 weeks follow-up. We also investigated whether the treatment would impact on patients’ autistic features. Methods. Adults with ASD (n=21) get 6 up to 8 weeks TAU in the waiting period for EMDR, in the intervention period a maximum of 8 sessions EMDR in addition to TAU, and in the follow-up TAU only. The Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and the Social Responsiveness Scale-Adult version (SRS-A) were filled out at 4 moments. Possible differences in mean scores over time were studied. Results. Results showed a significant reduction of symptoms of post-traumatic stress (IES-R: d=1.16), psychopathological symptoms (BSI: d=0.93) and autistic features (SRS-A: d=0.39), associated with the application of EMDR therapy. Positive results were maintained at follow-up. Conclusions. It is possible that symptoms routinely ascribed to ASD are in fact stress reactions to a history of adverse events. This phenomenon of diagnostic overshadowing is significant for clinical practice, because it may result in under-treatment of trauma in adults with ASD. We hope that the results may assist clinicians to recognize the impact of adverse events in people with ASD and to apply EMDR.
Original Work Citation
Lobregt-Van Buuren, E. (2018, June). Effectiveness of EMDR therapy as an adjunct to treatment as usual (TAU) in adults with autism and a history of adverse events. In EMDR Association with other psychotherapies. Presentation at the 19th EMDR Europe Conference, Strasbourg, France
“Effectiveness of EMDR therapy as an adjunct to treatment as usual (TAU) in adults with autism and a history of adverse events,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 10, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/25201.